Alibaba develops native DingTalk app for HarmonyOS, as Huawei aims to end support for Android apps

Alibaba Group Holding is developing a new version of its workplace collaboration app that is compatible with Huawei Technologies’ HarmonyOS platform, as the US-sanctioned telecoms equipment giant seeks wider adoption of its home-grown operating system and moves to cut dependence on Google’s Android.

DingTalk, one of four business pillars newly tasked with spearheading Alibaba’s future growth, will also collaborate with Huawei in industrial innovation, technology application and business development, according to a post published on DingTalk’s WeChat account on Thursday.

“Digitalisation and the development of intelligent technology require innovative collaboration across the industry chain,” said Ye Jun, president of DingTalk.

The move by Alibaba, owner of the South China Morning Post, comes as major Chinese internet companies from Alibaba’s e-commerce rival JD.com to food-delivery giant Meituan are actively recruiting app developers for projects based on Huawei’s self-developed operating system.

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Can Huawei’s Harmony OS for smartphones compete with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS?

Can Huawei’s Harmony OS for smartphones compete with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS?

Huawei introduced HarmonyOS in August 2019 as an alternative to Google’s Android, three months after the Shenzhen-based company was added to the US government’s Entity List, barring American suppliers from selling software, chips and other technologies to the Chinese tech firm without Washington’s approval.

As part of a strategy set out this year by Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei, the company aims to get more companies and users into the HarmonyOS ecosystem to counter the impact of US sanctions.

The next iteration of Huawei’s cross-device platform, HarmonyOS Next, will no longer support Android-based apps, said Richard Yu Chengdong, chief executive of the firm’s consumer business group and chairman of its Intelligent Automotive Solution business unit, at the company’s annual developer conference in August.
Huawei’s confidence has been buoyed by strong sales of its Mate 60 Pro smartphone, the company’s first handset equipped with a 5G chip since October 2020. Huawei’s smartphone sales rose 90 per cent year on year in the first four weeks of October, according to data from Counterpoint Research.

With its latest collaboration with Huawei, DingTalk has become one of the first intelligent business platforms to launch a native app on HarmonyOS, the Alibaba unit said.

The unit is among four businesses that Alibaba has chosen to undergo “strategic-level innovation” to bolster the company’s growth in the next decade. The others are online wholesale marketplace 1688, second-hand goods trading platform Xianyu, and search and cloud storage product Quark.

These units “will, in organisational terms, operate as independent subsidiaries and will not be constrained to their previous positioning within the group, enabling them to face the larger market with their own strategies,” Eddie Wu Yongming, Alibaba’s new CEO, said on a post-earnings conference call with analysts last week.

There are currently more than 600 million individual users and 23 million enterprises on DingTalk, while more than 700 million devices and 2.2 million developers are on the HarmonyOS ecosystem, the companies have said.

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